Where I’ve Been

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For the record, getting two dogs to look at the camera is challenging.

In the past twelves days, Dan, Max and I have been in Minnesota for Christmas.

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These would be my crazy high school friends...

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Max and Annie were unsure of each other at first, but by the end of our visit, they were friends!

Then we were in Milwaukee.

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Then (sans Max) we went to Madison, where we visited with

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Kelly and Sarah.  We walked State Street, stocked up at Trader Joe’s, attempted to visit the new student union (which was sadly closed for the holidays), ate stir-fry at Flattop, then cookie dough egg rolls, tacos and grilled cheese at Bluephies.  And wrapped it all up with some Greenbush doughnuts.  (Hey, we hadn’t been back since our wedding in May 2010, so we had to fit in all our favorite foods!)

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And…back in Milwaukee for New Year’s and Rose Bowl.  By the end, we were happy to have seen everyone, but definitely ready to get home and back into our regular routines.

Our plan was to get up at 4 am yesterday and leave around 5 so that we could beat the worst of the Chicago traffic and get home at a reasonable time (Yes, we drove to all of these places and no, we will not be doing it again next year.  That is over 40 hours of driving total.  Ouch.  At least the weather was uncharacteristically warm for the Ithaca–>Minneapolis and Minneapolis–>Milwaukee legs of the trip, so the roads were clear.)

Twenty five miles into the drive, though, Dan struggled to keep the car in our lane as the ABS and emergency brakes lit up.  We pulled off the freeway and stopped at a Citgo, thinking the crosswinds were pulling and pushing on our rooftop bag and causing all the problems.  Once everything was stuffed in the back seat, we started driving.

We didn’t make it far. It sounded like there was an airplane on top of our car (we were near the airport and actually briefly hoped that the noise we were hearing was from a plane) and the back of the car was dragging.  We called for a tow and requested that they take the car to Dan’s regular car guy.

Dan’s family has bought all of their cars in the past 20-ish years from Ralph, and he did all the service work on our current station wagon until we moved to New York.  We knew we could trust him and that he would do his best to get us back on the road as quickly as possible.

When we had our annual inspection back in June, the (incredibly overpriced) garage told us that we wouldn’t pass (and therefore wouldn’t get our registration tags) unless they did a ton of brake work.  Turns out that either those parts they gave us were faulty or the installation was bad and the back bearings essentially disintegrated… a mere 6 months later.

By noon, Ralph had the back breaks functional and safe again, but noticed that the front bearings were starting to go.  He said we could probably make it home, but with an 800 mile drive ahead of us, we didn’t want to risk it.  Plus, we don’t know where we’re going to take the car in New York yet, since we obviously aren’t going back to the garage that did our inspection this summer.  So it wasn’t until after 4pm that we were back on the road, putting us back in Ithaca around… 7 am.

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And that, right there, is why you didn’t get my “how to pull together a dinner with what remains in your pantry after nearly two weeks away and a very long drive that leaves you with no desire to cook” post.


  1. says

    You’re a brave woman for doing all that driving!

    I used to bring my car to Lane’s automotive when I lived in Ithaca–they were amazing. I think they’re still open, but I believe they have new owners (relatives, some kind of family drama) and are no longer as good. There’s a woman owned car repair shop in Ithaca that my friend currently brings her car.

    • Julie @savvyeats says

      Thanks for the tips! I’ll have to look into Lane’s. Do you know the name of the place your friend goes?

  2. says

    1. i like your red sweatery thing.
    2. you know i love that madison photo
    3. i hope you are sleeping right now.
    4. in response to the caption on your first photo – did you see Meghann Anderson’s Christmas photos with the dogs. her captions were adorable and the photos were super cute. Especially the out-takes!
    5. Oh LOOK! I did that thing where I go to the blog and find the link I am talking about because I think you need to see it: http://mealsandmiles.com/2011/12/24/merry-christmas-eve-2/
    6. LOVE YOU!

    • Julie @savvyeats says

      You’d think I’d be sleeping, wouldn’t you? No, instead I just finished deep-cleaning the refrigerator. It needed it and it is practically empty anyways. But seriously, I have no idea why I felt the need to deep-clean the fridge within 10 minutes of finally getting home. I anticipate a big crash later this afternoon…

  3. says

    Welcome back 🙂 It sounds like it was a wonderful holiday season for you, minus the car trouble on the way home. Thank goodness you were able to take the car in to someone you trusted– and I’m glad you all got home safely!

    Also, for the record, your account of the food you ate in Madison had me drooling … Cookie dough egg rolls?! Yes, please 😉

    • Julie @savvyeats says

      YES…we actually had them instead of cake at our wedding, we love them that much!

  4. says

    Yay Madison! 🙂

    That photo of State St and the Capital is gorgeous! Love the colors! And, although it wasn’t fun to walk around in, the wetness on the street mirroring the lights is great too!

  5. says

    Welcome home! We only drove from Massachusetts to North Carolina and back and that was enough to make me tired of sitting in the car. I can’t imagine 40 hours!

    Also, it’s really awesome that you still have crazy high school friends. I’m not really talking to anyone I went to high school with and sometimes I think that’s kind of sad.